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Are You Suffering From False Infertility? Interplay between Mental health and Infertility

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Are You Suffering From False Infertility? Interplay between Mental health and Infertility

Mental Illness is Not A Personal Failure


Mental Health (MH) issues are rising rampantly these days. There is a rat race in which there is a lot of pressure to succeed (either be famous or earn big bucks). With the advent of social media, everybody feels the pressure to do something that is social media worthy. The competitive demand of life adds to abundant mental pressure and fatigue, leading to MH issues.

Amongst other problems, MH issues have been said to cause infertility. Which means, if you have anxiety/ depression/ other MH problems, chances are that your fertility may decrease. MH may impact fertility directly, like as stated by some of the researchers that anxiety/ depression releases hormones which affect one’s reproductive system or it may affect the person indirectly, by lifestyle changes that the person suffering from MH problem faces – like comfort eating, insomnia or too much sleep and adaptation of other unhealthy lifestyle choices, all of which may have an adverse affect on fertility.

So what do you do? If you are encountering problems conceiving, do you see a MH professional to cure your infertility? Or do you go to a fertility clinic? Read through the below sections for some help on the matter.


I. If you are already suffering from MH

It is important for one to recognise and identify if one is suffering from any MH ailment. I am a big advocate of seeking professional help for MH problems. MH is just like any other physical ailment. You need professionals to cure it or learn how to manage it. It is not something that you can treat on your own through self-help books or some lifestyle changes.


Having said that, if you are already suffering from a MH issue and at the same time facing problems in conceiving, best is to bring it up with your psychiatrists/ psychotherapists. They are professionals who would understand your problems better and might be able to guide you on what can be done if they think your anxiety/ depression might be coming in the way of your conception. Also, a lot of people suffer from postpartum depression and your psychiatrist/ psychotherapist will be able to tell whether you are ready to have a baby or maybe you should work on yourself for sometime before getting pregnant. So don’t be shy to discuss your fertility issue with your MH doctor.


II. If you are suffering from infertility, which in turn is causing anxiety or depression

As we all know, infertility can be experienced even by a person not having MH issue (and it is not that every person facing MH issue would face infertility). Not being able to bear a child leads to a lot of stress/ anxiety/ depression in most couples and in some cases strains the relationship of husband and wife.

The frustration and sadness of repeated attempts and failing at them leads to mental ordeal. Apart from that societal pressure and unsolicited advices from family, friends, nosy neighbours and random people you may have barely met, increases the mental agony. Also sometimes bearing of a child is looked as a symbol of womanhood/ manhood and not being able to do so is viewed as woman/ man not being complete. All this leads to self-guilt, self-blame and a feeling of inadequacy which leads a woman/ man/ couple to depression or anxiety.

It is important that we as society understand that infertility is not something that warrants “raised eyebrows” or something that should banish a woman/ man or their self-esteem. Infertility should be treated as any other physical problem and people around should be more supportive and understanding rather than stigmatizing a woman/ man/ couple for their inability to have a child.

After failing for years, some couples prefer taking medication or going through surgical procedures or assisted conception like IVF/ IUI. However, in some cases even this is not the answer to their prayers. These procedures/ treatments take a mental and physical toll on the women and even on her partner. It can be very exhausting and nerve-wrecking to take hormonal injections and undergo the entire process for conception. And even after all that effort, the guarantee of having a baby is not cent percent. Failure in these kinds of treatments adds to further trauma of couples.

‘Acceptance’ of the situation is the key solution to ease the mental agony. Thinking about it on a loop or being sad will not solve the problem and would only increase frustration, irritability and feeling of low self worth.


Must Read: How To Deal With Burnout Syndrome During Fertility Treatment?


III. Are you suffering from judgmental infertility?

A lot of couples these days want to have children at a later stage in their life or do not wish to have children at all. But in a lot of cases, other people keep asking them, haunting them, taunting them and create a fuss about not wanting kids. After a few years of marriage, people tend to start speculating and spreading false rumours about a couples’ inability to have a child and it becomes the most exciting and juicy bit of talk of the town.

What is important is that we as society bring about a change in our thinking and learn to accept that people may want to do things which are generally not the “norm” of society. There is nothing to be bewildered about a choice of not having kids. These false rumours/ unnecessary pressure on people can adversely affect their mental wellbeing and can cause a lot of stress/ depression to an otherwise happy and healthy couple.

On the contrary, the couples who do not want to have children should endeavour to realise that one cannot change anybody’s thinking and so it is better to be resolute and confident about the decision. If one is sure that it is better for them to not have children, then one should not get affected by the remarks of society and have children only for the heck of it.


IV. Are you suffering from false infertility?

With availability of so much information on internet these days, sometimes it can be a bane to know too many things on a subject. A lot of times, just after a few months of trying for a baby, couples approach professionals for not being able to conceive, because of the horror stories they might have read on internet or heard from kith and kin. This unsolicited information added with society pressure makes a person forget that normal conception in some cases may take up-to 2-3 years also, especially if you try for a baby in your late twenties or early thirties. After hearing/ reading so many negative stories a couple tends to get pessimistic much before it is required. This leads to unwarranted stress/anxiety/ nervousness which compels people to undergo the worst forms of fertility tests, only to know after months of trauma and spending money that there is nothing wrong with their fertility.

Then why are they not conceiving?? Maybe because they forgot to be patient or quickly got anxious and stressed for not getting pregnant? A lot of specialists and doctors advise that to conceive one must enjoy the process of love making and not think about making a baby that time. It is only when you enjoy and are stress free during the process that your chances of conceiving are likely to be high. Also, it is important to give yourself time. Panicking would only increase your stress level and increase your doubt in your fertility which would further delay the process. Maybe you just did not hit the right days. Or maybe, planning too aggressively and doing it too often, also sometimes does not work well for conception.

From above points we can see, that MH and infertility are sort of connected and become a vicious circle. That’s because MH may lead to infertility and infertility causes further anxiety or stress of not having a child, thus further decreasing fertility. So what can be the next steps?

To ease your mental pain, while it is best to seek help from a MH professional if your case falls under  point 1, in cases of points 2-4, depending on the severity of mental fatigue/ trauma, a professional MH worker may or may not be required. Below are a few remedies that may help ease your stress/ sadness (which in turn may help your fertility also!). But assessment of severity of anxiety/ depression has to be done by the individual/ professional and accordingly steps should be taken to address it:

1. Follow a good lifestyle – Leading a healthy lifestyle is very important. A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Hence, practice good lifestyle like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, sleeping and getting up on time, eating right, etc. This can also help increase your fertility.


2. Cut down on your social media hours– yes! Try it out. It will definitely help your MH. Taking a break from constant posts of people having a baby is likely to help you heal, think, accept your situation and deal with it better.


3. Consider Adoption – you can always think of adoption. A lot of people want to have their own child, because they end up looking like them and pick up their traits. While an adopted baby may not look like you, traits are something that a child picks up by observing people around. So adopted child would still pick up traits from you and would be your replica in that sense. The stigma of ‘apna khoon’ has to go. A child is a blessing, it does not matter which way they enter your life.


This article expresses personal views of the author formed basis her interviews and interactions with people suffering from MH and infertility. No part of the article should be taken as a professional medical advice. 

Author Bio:

Apeksha Solanki is a Chartered Accountant by qualification but has been passionate about writing from her childhood. She has recently turned to a full-time writer to pursue dream of her 16 year old self. In April, 2020 her debut book “GST For The Layman – How It Impacts Your Daily Life’ was published by Bloomsbury. Having being diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, she wishes to spread awareness and help people understand Mental Health better. She has recently started writing quick reading bites on her two Instagram pages: @gstgyani  &  @beating_quarantine_blues

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